He has been associated with NOVA as a member of the organization, as its national treasurer, and as a member of its board of directors. NOVA is the nation’s oldest and largest crime victim organization. Founded in 1975 as a private, non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization, NOVA’s membership includes victim assistance programs and practitioners, criminal justice agencies and professionals, mental health professionals, former victims and survivors, and others committed to the recognition and implementation of victim rights. His role Executive Director will be to further NOVA’s mission to champion dignity and compassion for those harmed by crime and crisis everywhere.
His focus will be in expanding the presence and voice of crime victims to every member of Congress, oversee the direct services to victims throughout the United States, assist professional colleagues in their research, and coordinate membership activities and services. Chief Justice Barajas is a nationally recognized lecturer on the proper balancing of the constitutional rights between the criminal defendant and the intended victim, Chief Justice Barajas was honored by the President of the United States at a White House ceremony as a national recipient of the Presidential Award for Victim Services. He has advised the Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime and the Office of Violence Against Women on issues relating to human trafficking.
At Cathedral High School, Chief Justice Barajas created the Center for Advanced Studies and as its founding director developed the dual credit/early college admissions program into a model for West Texas and Texas Catholic high schools. He was an early college instructor of American Government and Politics, State and Local Government, and Principles of Victimology. He established the school’s intensive Writing Symposium, which is annually conducted during the school’s semester break, which focuses writing for their use in applying for college scholarships. Seniors are guided through the writing process by alumni and volunteers from Saint Mary’s College of California, a Lasallian college.
To date, the Writing Symposium has produced 87 Gates Millennium Finalists, 45 Gates Millennium Scholars, a national Reagan Foundation Scholar, a national Footlocker Scholar, a national Nordstrom Scholar, and countless other regional and local scholarship winners. The Class of 2015 accumulated a record $28.7 million in scholarship/grants thanks in large part to the Writing Symposium.
Chief Justice Barajas ’71 is a proud alumnus of Cathedral High who credits the Lasallian Christian Brothers with significantly impacting his life as a young man. He retired from the judicial bench almost twenty years ago to teach fulltime to contribute his unique experiences (naval officer, lawyer, district attorney, chief justice) to the formation of young men.
During the height of the cartel violence which impacted many students at Cathedral, Chief created the only high school course in Victimiology in the nation. “It gave our students an understanding of how the violence was impacting them but also a language to process the pain. They taught me the power of education to stop cycles of violence.” Chief essentially sees the new position at NOVA as an extension of what he was doing in the classroom. “Our Lasallian spirituality teaches us that our schools must be c enters of empowerment and change. I’ll be blessed to do that on a national scale.”
Marco Ortigoza, MPA, MCJ '08 will assume the duties of Director of Advanced Studies, Early Admissions Program. He has been running the program’s daily operations for two semesters as well as teaching three dual-credit courses to CHS upperclassmen.